10 Groundbreaking Broadway Musicals


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'Hamilton' (2015)
Music director Alex Lacamoire (left) and actor/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda celebrate on stage during as they win the Grammy for best musical theater album for 'Hamilton,' Feb. 15, 2016 in New York City. Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images

Want to see "Hamilton"? Get in line. Literally. The wildly hit show, which opened in 2015, sold out its initial run, and its popularity continues in 2018. "Hamilton" is the unlikely marriage of old-school American history with rap/hip-hop music. The brainchild of creator and co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Hamilton" uses a multi-ethnic cast to rap its way through some true tales of Revolutionary War-era America, all the while depicting the Founding Fathers as ambitious, skirt-chasing OGs [source: Kelley].

The show was inspired by Miranda's enjoyment of the biography, "Alexander Hamilton," in which he clearly saw a man full of ego, ambition and talent. Thus, the concept for the show was born, but Miranda modernized it with a score that is so very current. It includes Beyoncé-style ballads and a rewrite of a Notorious B.I.G. song, as well as references to hip-hop legends like Grandmaster Flash. The show goes all "8 Mile" on us with cabinet meetings that discuss boring political stuff like federalism in true rap battle fashion [source: Rosen]. "Hamilton" received a record-setting 16 Tony nominations and won 11, including best musical, a Grammy for best musical theater album and the 2016 Pulitzer prize for drama.

With its premium seats going for around $900 each, "Hamilton" helped give Broadway its highest-grossing season in history in 2017 [source: Seymour]. And if the show's popularity continues as it is now, that stat's likely to be surpassed.

Author's Note: 10 Groundbreaking Musicals

Writing this story was as if the mothership was calling me home. A lifelong lover of dance and music, I grew up watching musicals like "Bye Bye Birdie," "Guys and Dolls," and "Grease" on TV, doing my best to memorize the scores and choreography. I was finally able to make it up to the real Broadway when the show "Spamalot," opened in 2005, starring David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry and the incomparable Hank Azaria. Because as much as I love good old-fashioned show tunes, I love Monty Python more.

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